Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N 900 Extreme Router
Asus may be better known for their computers and components, but this company has an established presence in the wireless router industry as well. The RT-N66U slots neatly above the RT-N56U Black Diamond (which remains one of our favorite routers at any price), offers improved performance all around, and is easily one of the best routers on sale today.
One of the first things you'll notice about the RT-N66U is the different design - whereas the RT-N56U emphasized sleek minimalism, the RT-N66U features a trio of external antennas. This new addition is more than cosmetic - dedicated users now have the option of unscrewing the factory antennas and replacing them with more powerful units, much in the vein of the old Linksys WRT54GL. While the crosshatched "diamond" pattern stays, the status lights have now been merged into their respective symbols for a more streamlined appearance. The included stand allows the router to be propped up horizontally, positioning the antennas for maximum effectiveness. It's obviously part of the same family that the RT-N56U belongs to, and stands out from the sea of look-alike routers.
Though the RT-N56U was already a stout performer to begin with, there are several aspects that the RT-N66U improves upon. The external antennas provide a welcome boost in range, allowing the RT-N66U to cover areas that may previously have been "dead zones". Wireless throughput speeds are up in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz modes, with noticeably higher speeds further away from the router. The RT-N66U offers four Gigabit Ethernet ports, with SmallNetBuilder's testing showing up to 810 Mbps in simultaneous throughput. This is one of the best-performing wireless routers on sale today, and should be your top consideration if range is especially important.